In the neighborhood growing up was a small confectionary, we called Ruby’s, because Ruby was always there. We loved the candy counter and if we had a few cents in our pocket, we’d buy something. It was located a few blocks away and to go there required parental permission. If we wanted to go and there wasn’t a need, it was common for my friend John or my brother and I to go to one mom and ask, “may I go to Ruby’s with …?” and then go to the other mother and ask the same question. We usually got a “yes” and off we’d go. Whether we asked my mother or John’s mother first didn’t matter, there was an omission of the fact that the other mother had not already said “yes.” It was a very small omission, but it wasn’t the whole truth. Since moms are smart, occasionally the first mother we’d ask would inquire if the other one had already said yes, catching us in that small “sin of omission.”
Come on, be honest, we’ve all omitted telling the whole story once or twice in our life, usually to protect ourselves. You know, if I tell dad the whole story, I’ll get in trouble too and I don’t want that to happen. It didn’t stop when you grew up either, it still happens today.
Another reason information is omitted is when there is a realization that if all the information is shared, those who receive it will know something someone didn’t want them to know and/or reach a different conclusion.
Today we talk a lot about the importance of leaders being transparent, but I believe transparency is equally important for everyone throughout the organization. Yes, it starts with leaders, but it must be with everyone you work with. What good is it to trust your leaders, but not trust those you spend the most time with every day, your team?
If there isn’t transparency, the seeds of distrust will begin to grow. Why? Because withholding of information isn’t accidental, it’s intentional. Someone decided to remain silent, choosing to exclude or not share information important for you to know when they could have done the right thing and shared. I recall Martin Luther King Jr. once said,
“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
You will forever remember when someone, a leader or peer, is not transparent with you.
Sometimes, omitting information is a little more subtle. The person omitting the information justifies not sharing in their mind because they weren’t asked directly for it. This happens usually when there is an advantage to the person not sharing, and they were hoping not to be asked directly, because they wouldn’t want to lie.
Imagine a manager whose employee requests to transfer to work in another department. The manager has been working with them to fix deficiencies in teamwork and attendance issues that crop up when there are key deadlines. What happens when the manager where the employee wants to transfer to, asks about the employee’s performance regarding their production and customer service, but never asks directly about their work in a team environment or about attendance?
If you were the manager, would you share fully and completely? I hope so, because remember, you work in the same organization. You’re on the same team.
Stop lying to each other; tell the truth, for we are parts of each other and when we lie to each other we are hurting ourselves. Ephesians 4:25 (TLB)